Monday, August 31, 2009

not me

— I don't make noise/talk loudly/run my sewing machine while others are watching television. It does not make Husband cranky.

— Lovely friend A did not point out a not-so-noticeable but very-there layer of kitty fur that had gradually become stuck on the carpeted baseboard of our hallway. I was not completely mortified by it and didn't need to spend nearly an hour making sure any and all remnants of cat hair was gone. gone. gone.

— I was not secretly proud of myself for buying my first-ever bus pass. I wasn't thrilled to stick it in its clear plastic sleeve. I'm not really excited to flash it at the bus driver tomorrow. I swear I'm not this lame.

For more Not Me Monday posts by other bloggers, click here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

off and running

Lovely friend T came over to visit this week and while we chatted and caught up after six weeks apart, I puttered away on a little fall project.

I don't have the funds to buy all of the decorations I would like to have for the change in seasons, so I'm going to try to use crafty items that I already have to make some!

I used the left over fabric from the ottoman cover I made ...

I ironed in the edges and sewed straight hems.

Then I used some of this handy iron-on paper and applied it to some leftover chocolate brown fabric that I had ...

I cut out some leaf shapes and ironed them on.

Then I used some white embroidery thread to line a couple of the leaves.

So what do you think? It's a work in progress. Should I outline the rest of the leaves? Maybe add some more green or burnt orange leaves as well? Maybe a ruffle? Or do you like the minimal look as-is?

Are you working on any fall projects of your own?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

tangled mess

This is is a problem.

Thankfully, Husband is patient enough to deal with such tangles on my behalf. Me? Not so much. That's probably part of the reason why I'm not a huge jewelry wearer.

I'm keeping my eye out for a solution like one of theses:

How do you keep your bling organized?

Friday, August 28, 2009

go bump in the night

We have a routine in our home in the mornings. Husband or I open the bedroom door two find two baby cats waiting patiently for breakfast. As soon as the door cracks open, they immediately start meowing — which I choose to believe is their way of saying, "Good morning!" instead of "Where's my breakfast?!"

A few days ago, the routine was different. Scarley and Ellie were in their usual spots outside the door. But they didn't make a sound.


I proceeded into the bathroom and moments later Husband discovers what they were up to. I hear, "You guys are baaaaaaad."

Needless to say, they didn't need to meow for their breakfast. And we had to buy more cat food.

Those two are bad news.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

key chaos

Well, and actually, it's not just keys. It's a certain wallet and cellphone, too. Because men don't tend to carry purses, they're forced to jam all of these necessary accessories in their pants pockets, and upon arrival in their wives kitchens, they empty said pockets on top of the microwave. This leaves little scratches on the microwave. Or these items are left on the counter in front of the microwave and will then need to be moved before the microwave can be used.

This has been cause for debates of varying length and intensity.

So this weekend, I am going to be proactive and develop a solution. Husband suggested some sort of basket or bin, but after a quick Google Image search, my mind's racing with a variety of suitable storage options, like these:

What do you do with your keys, mail and other frequently needed items when you walk in the door?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

falling in love

I wore tights to work today. Not footless, I'm-wearing-these-to-make-my-short-dress-more-work-appropriate tights. Real, thick, warm tights.

And do you know what that means, dear readers? It is almost my favourite season! This week, for the first time in nearly a month, the temperature has dropped below 27+ degrees. I'm sure you hate to admit it, but in no time fall will be us upon us.

I'm looking forward to getting our apartment ready for fall — adding cozy throws to our couch, buying gourds for a new kitchen table centrepiece, wearing slippers around the house, and stocking up on the treats I can only justify eating in October, under the guise of Halloween.

What do you do around the house when the seasons change?

try it tuesday

I don't know if it has to do with the impending change in seasons, or what, but I'm on yet another cleaning frenzy.

So, for this edition of Try it Tuesday, I'm going to give Mother Nature a big hug and make my own all-natural cleaning supplies.

After some good old fashioned Googling, I gathered up items from around the apartment — a spray bottle, vinegar, a lemon, baking soda and tap water.

In one of my handy Dollarama spray bottles, I combined a squirt of vinegar and a splash of water and a couple wedges of lemon. Not terribly scientific; shaken not stirred.

But mixing some ingredients from the pantry and scrubbing up my apartment isn't terribly exciting, is it?

That's why I issued a challenge — in one corner Nature's Source Fantastic, which admittedly better for the environment than many chemical-based alternatives . In the other corner my homemade cleaning cocktail — and once the line was drawn (in duct tape) it was every cleaning product for herself.

And when it was all over but the crying, it was our lemon-fresh underdog that came out victorious.

I was truly impressed with how much better the vinegar mixture cut through the soap scum on the tile. It took little-to-no elbow grease to wipe the tiles clean, which is more than I can say for the store-bought alternative.

I'm forever changed by this revelation.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a bubble bath waiting in a sparkling clean tub.

Monday, August 24, 2009

not me

— I would not suggest to Husband that he make iced coffee in the martini shaker and then proceed to get a little upset completely freak out when the shaker fell out of the freezer and exploded coffee all over the kitchen. I am always a calm and understanding wife.

— I did not wish for Hurricane Bill to slam into Halifax. I did not hope that our city would be in shambles, just so the power would go out and we would get Monday off work. That's just crazy talk.

— I did not say to heck with the bus and drive the car to work today, even though Husband and I agreed that we'd both take the bus. I did not park without paying. I would never needlessly waste gas to avoid the bus or unnecessarily risk a parking ticket.

— I crafted, blogged and worked on projects all weekend. I'm not completely behind on pretty much everything I'm working on. I never over-extend myself to the point when pretty much nothing gets done. I also finish each craft/blog/project before starting another one, to ensure efficiency. 

For more Not Me Mondays posted by other bloggers, click here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

If you've got 'em, flaunt 'em

OK, the title of this post might be a tad misleading. I've mentioned before that I love cookbooks and have made a modest collection over the years. That said, I am officially adding open kitchen shelving to my dream home wish list —

Thursday, August 20, 2009

favourite things

Since I left my freelance life for the 9 to 5 grind, I haven't seen a single episode of Oprah, but when it's time for her Favourite Things, I will probably set the DVR ... not because I care what Oprah favours, but to see the reactions of the lucky members of the audience who get to take home a ridiculous amount of loot.

If I could play Oprah for a day, I'd fill an audience full of my family and friends and give them a taste of my faves —

A copy of one of my earliest fave books, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar.

A bag of super delicious Just Us coffee to sip while reading.

And what kind of giveaway would be complete without some electronic goodies? I'm a Mac girl, as I know many of you are, so I would pass along the iMac that I would like to have, as soon as I decide to part with my beloved MacBook.

And a Nikon D60, which is the perfect camera for someone who isn't terribly versed in photography but likes to pretend wishes that she was.

And if I knew how to clone cats, I would give everyone a pair of the sweetest sleeping babies ever.

And, in the Oprah spirit ... A NEW CAR!

It would have to be a Toyota Corolla, of course. For those of you who don't know, Husband and I drive a 1998 Corolla, who passed her inspection today, which is cause for celebration. And yes, she is a she, and her name is Mabel. Why? Because she is purple. Am I the only one who loved Mabel Murple by Sheree Fitch when I was a kid? Incase you have no idea what I'm talking about, watch this:

What would you put in your favorite things giveaway?

Prompt courtesy of MamaKat. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

try it tuesday

Welcome to the second edition of Try it Tuesday! Did anyone make the Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies? Several lovely readers e-mailed me their favourite cookie recipes after last week's post, and I can't wait to give them all a try.

Though I hadn't initially planned to feature another recipe so soon, I ended up involuntarily spending many hours on this next treat, so to make the time a little more worth it, I thought I'd share my experience with you.

The challenge: Apple Cinnamon Buns

Sounds pretty simple right? Ha.

I went to see Julie & Julia tonight and have the spirit of Julia Child inspiring me as I write, so I'll try to be less cynical about this experience.

It all started when Husband mentioned that the apples we'd bought weren't great, so I decided to dig up a recipe to put a few of them to use. Because this is a long recipe, here is a scanned version for you. No disrespect intended to the copyright folks; this is indeed a BHG recipe.

So, see where it says "Prep" ... I saw that 45 minutes and carried on my way, not noticing the indications for Rise:1 hour, Chill 2 to 24 hours, Stand: 30 minutes, Bake: 20 minutes ... for a grand total of ... a long time.

To make matters more interesting, I realized a little late that I didn't have the corn syrup that was required for the vanilla glaze, so in my infinite wisdom, I Googled a recipe for homemade corn syrup substitute.

After a whole lot of whisking, my sugar, water, cream of tatar mixture became what I can reasonably describe as corn syrup.

The rest of the recipe wasn't too difficult. I just highly recommend waiting until you're snowed in for an entire day, rather than trying to rush this in two hours in the biggest heat wave to hit Halifax since I-don't-know-when.

I let the dough raise, I punched it down, I kneaded it with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.

And eventually I got little pinwheels.

Here they are, in all their golden brown, vanilla glazed glory. And, I will admit, they are quite tasty.

Overall, I won't make them again anytime soon. It's a whole lot of work for something that can easily be purchased at the delicious smelling bakery just steps from my office.

Satisfaction: 4 stars (minus one for the fact that I nearly melted in the process)

pretty please?

I managed to last the entire summer using last year's purse. In my thrifty attempt, I even rubbed off on sister-in-law C, who also reused her 2008 bag. In fact, C's sister S and their mom C had the amazing idea to do a purse swap, so they both had new-to-them bags for the season without spending a cent! Well done, ladies!

But now, I must admit, I'm falling off the wagon. Last year's summer purse is done like dinner, and it's time to look into an autumn appropriate option.

Enter this little lovely —

I've been bitten by the shopping bug. Somebody please put on some sort of parental lock that keeps me off the Forever 21 website.

Monday, August 17, 2009

not me

— I never ignore my blog for days at a time. I never find myself with creative and/or writer's block. 

— I always read a recipe before I start cooking. That is obviously the logical thing to do. I didn't start a "quick" recipe, only to find out that it was going to take hours. I did not spend a sunny weekend afternoon inside with a hot oven as a result of this miscalculation. 

— I always consult my new, expensive agenda before making plans, because that's obviously the point of spending the money on said agenda. I never double book.

— I would never post my Not Me Mondays on Tuesday morning and pre-date the post for Monday night. I'm not a blogging failure.

To read more Not Me Monday posts by other lovely bloggers, click here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

bridal inspiration

My lovely bride-to-be friend S is putting her craftiness to good use as she prepares for her upcoming wedding. Like me, she's financially savvy and we're having a ball coming up with ways for her wedding to be million-dollar elegant on a wallet-friendly budget.

The before and afters speak for themselves. Here is the before of the card box Husband and I had at our wedding. In my defense, it was a last-minute purchase and I had a lot going on in the days leading up to the wedding. Oh, I know, it's hideous.

Using the eggplant and lilac colour scheme from her own wedding, S picked up some fabric and pretty embellishments and ended up crafting this:

What an amazing improvement! Well done, S!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

uh oh

Amy over at Rainy Saturday posted about her summer to-dos today, which led me to the startling discovery that I'd completely forgotten about July's list. Eeek.

Well, now it's mid-August, so it's definitely time to fess up.

Finish the spring summer cleaning. 

I actually made significant progress on this one. The spare bedroom/office is not only usable now, but it's also very organized and functional. Yay me!

Done and done! Check out our latest posts and shop updates here.

Accomplish something else from our Amazing 2009 To Do List.

We're working on the read-the-same-book item. Husband recently picked up a book I've already read this year and I can't wait to see what he thinks.

Purge unused and unnecessary items from our apartment. 

Success! We donated a bag of clothes and linens, as well as a bag of misc household items.

Make three more new recipes. 

As you already saw today, I've mastered the art of Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies. Even though I technically made them in August, they still count, right? No? Crap. Well, I can't remember much about my culinary endeavors for July, but I'll do a much better job of documenting my experiments in August. Promise.

debut: try it tuesday

Remember when I said I have one other little reveal up my sleeve? This is it — my very own weekly feature!

Each week I'm going to try something new — be it a diy project, a recipe or something crafty — and post step-by-step instructions, as well as my own feedback on the success of the endeavour. Does this sound like fun or what?

Today's test — a recipe for Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies. I've been in search of a good cookie recipe for a while. For months I used the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, but I found they turned out different each time. Then I tried out the recipe in my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, and while they were good, they weren't awesome.

Last week, when we were in New Brunswick for vacation, I raided my Mum's recipe box as I often do and copied down several recipes to add to my own collection and this cookie recipe stood out.

This recipe is an odd combination of ingredients — coconut, chopped nuts, graham crumbs, sweetened condensed milk.

I've been known to lose track of my baking until I smell burning coming from the kitchen, so I am quite proud to report that I set my timer for each pan and every single cookie of the three dozen turned out perfectly.

What it really comes down to in the end is the taste test. I'm not the biggest fan of coconut, so I wasn't sure if I'd be the best person to judge this trial run, but I was pleasantly surprised. The ingredients complement each other to make a hearty, yet soft and chewy cookie. I love these. I give them 5 out of 5 stars.

I can't be the only taste tester when it comes to Try It Tuesday recipes. And we all know the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Husband said, and I quote, "I would pay for this cookie. It's pretty much perfect."

There you have it, folks. Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies = Success.

Try them for yourself:

Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies
Source: Mum's recipe box

In a small bowl, combine:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder

In a large bowl, combine until smooth:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup butter

Add dry ingredients to wet mixture.

1 1/3 cups coconut
1 pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips (I only used about 3/4 of the package)
1 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)

Spoon onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes. Makes 3 dozen.

Please feel free to comment below with any ideas or requests for future Try It Tuesday posts!

*Update: As an added bonus, I had the chance to poll brother and sister-in-law B and C for their opinions on this recipe and I'm pleased to report C gives a big 5 stars, especially for the chunky texture. And B is the only loser voter to give the morsels 4.5 stars, but it's because he's not a huge fan of coconut. Just kidding! I'll leave the coconut out in the next batch, B!

Monday, August 10, 2009

not me

— I always drive the speed limit on the highway and would never hold one hand up to intentionally block Husband's view of the speedometer while I'm behind the wheel.

— I am realistic about the power of the sun. I would never consider myself invincible. I always remember to put on sunscreen. My face did not peel this week.

— I did not brag to my Mum about all of the homemade meals I'd made for Husband this week. I did not promptly put one of said meals in the oven and burn it to a crisp. I always set the timer on the oven. I don't think karma would ever bite me in this way.

— I did not throw a complete temper tantrum when I realized that I had burned our supper. I did not sulk like I child while Husband made a whole new supper. 

For more Not Me Monday posts by other bloggers, click here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

crafty sunday

I spent a relaxing afternoon crafting with lovely friends H and S today. I had no idea what to work on, but when we made a quick supply stop at Fabricville and, in the middle of the clearance aisle, I was struck with inspiration.

Husband and I got this lovely espresso-coloured ottoman as a wedding gift from brother and sister-in-law B and C.

But much to my disappointment, the kitties liked it as much as we did, and this happened:

I love it so much, and every time I look at it, I'm sad that the exterior has been scratched up.

So, with some patient measuring and cutting, I crafted a little slip cover for it. This way, by removing the cover, it's still functional as a storage piece.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

lemons to lemonade

Being poor is just a good excuse to get creative, as far as I'm concerned. Husband and I certainly don't go without, but we're trying our best to save money all the time. That said, it's Friday and I can't stop thinking, "What are we going to do tonight?"

Instead of being bummed that we don't have expendable income for an out-on-the-town date tonight, I put my thinking cap on and here's what I came up with:

— Go to one of the many city parks we've never visited and play catch (with a tee ball instead of a real baseball, of course, since Husband thinks I'll miss the ball with my glove and get smoked in the face ... but that's another story).

— Cook dinner together and enjoy a slow, relaxing meal, instead of eating on the run like we often do.

— Get dressed up in our summery best and walk along the boardwalk, taking in the Buskers Festival. I'm usually not a big fan to touristy crowds, but it beats sitting inside on a warm summer evening.

— Take a drive around neighbourhoods where we'd like to live one day and dream up future plans.

— Have a board game marathon. We're currently addicted to Blokus.

— Make coffee, tea or smoothies, put them in travel mugs and take a stroll around our neighbourhood. 

— Visit the library and browse the books. Pick up a few free DVDs while we're there too.

— Teach each other something new. I've been wanting to teach Husband to play cribbage. He wants to help me with my golf game.

In just a few minutes I came up with enough activities to last the whole weekend. What do you do for free on date night?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

trying to beat the heat

Let me preface this post by saying that I am, in no way, complaining about the warm weather we've been having. In fact, I hate to mention the words warm and weather in the same sentence, for fear Mother Nature might overhear me and think she's been too generous.


If you read the story of Wiskers the Wonder Cat that I posted last week, you'll recall that we are now trying to keep our windows closed when we're not in a room. So, when we went to bed last night (the first night home after a week of vacation) we kept all windows, except the one in our bedroom, closed. And we have to keep the bedroom door closed, otherwise baby cats No. 1 and No. 2 lick their daddy's face so he can stay awake and play with them all night. 


Long story short, our bedroom is a pressure cooker. It's worse than any other apartment I've ever lived in. I woke up last night at hourly intervals and stood next to the window, willing any little bit of breeze to hit my face. No dice. It was a sauna. And our little fan is basically just pushing around the warm air. So, my question is, how are we going to deal with this? The summer weather is really just ramping up and there should (knock on wood) be many more hot days and nights ahead, but we have to keep the windows closed and the bedroom door shut. And an air conditioner isn't an option with our large, old windows.

I'm sure we're not the only ones dealing with this. Come on DIYers, how do you beat the heat?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

summer reading

I mentioned a while back that I had read My Sister's Keeper and loved it. I was excited for the movie version, but felt pretty certain that it wouldn't live up to the book. Then, as my friends saw it, I quickly found out that the ending of the movie is not the same as the end of the book. Seriously? Who does that? I never did see it in the theatre. Did you read the book and see the movie? What did you think?

I need to re-read The Time Traveler's Wife before I see the movie in the theatre in August. I  picked it up randomly at a used bookstore a few years ago and it immediately became one of my all-time favourites. I'm sure it'll be one of those books that I'll pick up again and again.

I, for one, can't wait to see this Julie & Julia — and I have to read the book first, naturally. 

What are you reading (and/or watching) this summer?